Zucchini and Corn Chowder

zucchini-and-corn-chowderIt’s another gray and cloudy day here. So I decided to make  some zucchini and corn chowder to warm up my belly. I also needed something to blog this week, so two birds, one stone kind of deal. For my vegetarian friends out there, substitute vegetable broth and omit the bacon pieces.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for garnish
  • Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. About 6-8 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the same stockpot and add onion, carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic. Cook until tender about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in dried thyme, basil, and rosemary cook until fragrant about 1 minute.
  4. Whisk in flour until lightly browned. About 1 minute.
  5. Add in chicken stock, milk bay leaf, zucchini and corn.
  6. Cook stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for about 7-8 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
  9. Remove the bay leaf. If the chowder is too thick for your liking, add a little more milk to thin out.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with bacon pieces, grated Parmesan cheese and parsley leaves.
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Spiced Lentil Soup With Bacon

lentil-soupI made this soup on a rainy and windy day. And boy, can I tell you that it hit the spot! Nothing like a hot bowl of soup with just a little kick of curry to warm your tummy. For my vegetarian friends, use vegetable broth and skip the bacon and add 1 cup of chopped kale or collard greens instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into thin slices or cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley or celery leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.  About 4-5 minutes. Drain the fat.
  2. Add the olive oil, onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, garlic, curry powder and thyme, stirring constantly and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
  5. Pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Season generously with fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Raise heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  8. Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender. Protect your hand from the steam with a kitchen towel placed over lid and purée the soup until smooth.
  9. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  10. If you are making this vegetarian style, now is the time to add 1 cup chopped kale or collard greens and cook for 5 minutes more or until your greens are tender.
  11. Serve with chopped parsley or celery leaves.

lentil-soup-pot

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Mini Loaves

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-2Believe it or not, this is actually a skinny recipe. And the best part is that it doesn’t taste like a skinny recipe. This zucchini bread tastes like a rich, decadent chocolate cake. But since it is made with Greek yogurt and grated zucchini, it is actually not that bad for you. Can’t complain about that.  Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I made these into 3 mini loaves. You can make using one regular size loaf pan instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt, excess liquid drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium sized ones)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips tossed in 1/2 tablespoon of flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease mini loaf pans with baking spray. (Or full size loaf pan)
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Put grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until blended. About 1-2 minutes. Add yogurt and mix until combined.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until combined with wet ingredients.
  6. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes in loaf pan, then remove from pan and finish cooling on baking rack before cutting and serving.

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-1

Pulled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Pico De Gallo

pulled-pork-taco-2Everyday is taco day in my house. But how about a little sweet and spicy kick?  Tex Mex meets Hawaiian and this is the end result. The slow cooker does most of the work, you get all the credit. Can’t beat that!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3 limes)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks or fresh if available
  • 1 small white or red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 20  small corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a 6 quart slow cooker add pork shoulder.
  2. In a large bowl, add barbecue sauce, brown sugar, lime juice (reserve 1 tablespoon for the pineapple pico de gallo), cayenne pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. Mix together to form a paste and spread evenly over pork shoulder.
  3. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours; or you can cook on high for 5 to 6 hours. Shred when done cooking. pulled-pork-in-crockpot
  4. When your pork is ready, assemble the pineapple pico de gallo.
  5. Slice the pineapple chunks into smaller pieces and place in large bowl. Add the diced onions, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, cilantro and reserved 1 tablespoon of lime juice. If you can handle the extra heat, add the crushed red peppers to the bowl. pineapple-salsa
  6. Top your tortillas with pulled pork, pineapple pico de gallo and shredded cabbage.
  7. Garnish with lime wedges. pulled-pork-taco-1

You can also change this recipe into pulled pork sliders by substituting Hawaiian bread rolls for the corn tortillas. pulled-pork-slider

Frijoles Charros (Mexican Cowboy Beans)

frijoles-charrosI’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately. Whenever I eat something at any restaurant, I always think to myself, “I wonder what they used to make this?” I’ve had these beans numerous times at my favorite Mexican restaurant. And I finally decided to try to recreate their recipe, but of course make it as easy and simple as possible. They turned out delicious! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. For my vegetarian friends, substitute with seitan bacon or use a few drops of liquid smoke and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4-5 slices of bacon, chopped into small strips
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Over medium high heat, add bacon pieces to large saucepan. Stir bacon pieces 2-3 minutes until mostly cooked. Drain excess fat from pan.
  2. Add diced onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes to bacon in pan. Stir until combined.
  3. Next add pinto beans and beef broth. Stir well and bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve as either the main course or a side dish.

frijoles-charros-pot